Al Bendiner

By: Froelich Rainey

Originally Published in 1964

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Al-BendinerProbably you always remember your friends in odd circumstances. I like to remember Al Bendiner early on a Sunday morning, when we rode across the ridge back of Valley Forge and got him out of bed for morning coffee–still cheerful and hospitable and full of enthusiasm. Particularly, I remember that morning when he happily showed me  his painting of my spotted horse in a fox hunt, taking a  jump with one foreleg covering his eyes.

Then, of course, there were all those jovial stories of his experience with University Museum expeditions in Iraq and Guatemala. But all of his really close friends, I am sure, could see behind the comedy to the man who thought deeply about human beings and the kind of life they make for themselves. Archaeology to him was an exciting business, but also a special kind of insight to another world which gratified his insatiable curiosity about everything. It always seemed to me that he was more aware of tragedy than are most people and that his laughter was kindly because of that awareness.

I do not wish to list here in the Museum’s magazine Expedition, all of Alfred Bendiner’s accomplishments. He is known as architect, writer, artist, caricaturist, and humorist. But we think of him here as a somewhat thwarted  archaeologist because he worked in that field as early as 1937, never lost his interest, and went back to this early enthusiasm in 1960 at Tikal in Guatemala. In the meantime, he gave us a hand at the Museum in the construction of the Hall of Man and stamped it with his special quality. So, we here will always think of him as one of that company of men and women who have made the Museum what it is.

We all knew that Al had been seriously ill, but it is still hard to believe that he is really gone. That calendar of Museum activities, illustrated with his drawings of the ruins at Tikal, so characteristically marks the hurried events of our individual lives which sometimes seem so painfully brief. But like those great monuments of the past, which are after all only the work of many individual human hands, his work and his individuality are still with us. We will miss him painfully but we are all very glad we knew Al.

Cite This Article

Rainey, Froelich. "Al Bendiner." Expedition Magazine 6, no. 4 (July, 1964): -. Accessed February 29, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/al-bendiner-needs-pictures/


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